ROCKLAND, Maine — Even though it was smack in the middle of the Great Depression, 1936 was a banner year for maritime activity along the coast of Maine.
That’s when the Maine Windjammer Fleet was inaugurated, and also when the Penobscot Marine Musuem in Searsport was founded. Those events are also two important reasons that year is being featured in this weekend’s ninth annual Maine Boats Homes & Harbors Show in Rockland.
John Hanson, founder and publisher of Maine Boats Homes & Harbors Magazine, said that each summer show organizers explore another way that “tradition shapes innovation.”
“It was in the middle of the Great Depression, but people were still innovating,” Hanson said Thursday. “There was a popularization of boats that was beginning to happen … there was a whole mess of attention paid to getting out onto the water that wasn’t just devoted to the ultra rich.”
The thousands of people expected to attend the three-day show, which begins Friday, will be able to come away with a better understanding of the era’s innovation thanks to a display of photographs from the Penobscot Marine Museum showing life on Penobscot Bay 75 years ago. They also will be able to check out vintage canoes, which were the most popular water-sport boat at the time, vintage ice-boats and a mid-1930s Elco powerboat that Hanson describes as “absolutely gorgeous.”
Aficionados of the old-but-still-good boats also will be able to gaze at a 1920s powerboat called Ragtime and a sailboat that was launched in New York in 1936.
“That boat lives in Castine and just won its class in a very prestigious ocean race from Marblehead to Halifax,” Hanson said.
Brand-new boats also will be filling Rockland Harbor, including a long and lean Morris 36, which Hanson describes as a “brand-new reinterpretation of the sailboat themes of the 1930s.”
Altogether, there will be more than 70 boats in the water and 150 exhibitors on land, including artists, boatbuilders, craftsmen, designers, furniture makers, jewelers and marine gear vendors.
The event will feature live music, craft demonstrations, a children’s area, food and the running of the ninth annual World Championship Boatyard Dog Trials.
Hanson said that one of the most interesting elements in the show is the focus on sustainability and energy efficiency, with Camden boat-builder Bill Buchholz showing off the Dirigo, his three-wheeled car that gets 100 miles per gallon. Thomaston boat-building firm Lyman-Morse also will be displaying its ZeroBase, a solar-operated power cube that has a wide range of uses — including, Hanson said, helping to power U.S. military bases in Afghanistan.
“The show is really just a wonderful collection of the creative energies along the coast,” he said.
The ninth annual Maine Boats Homes & Harbors Show will be held 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. Friday, Aug. 12 and Saturday, Aug. 13, and 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 14, at Harbor Park at the Rockland waterfront.
Tickets are $12, with kids under 12 attending free. For more information and an event schedule, please visit the website www.maineboats.com/boatshow.